Student Startups Win Scholarships for Outstanding Pitches

11/14/2017 9:07:11 AM Rebecca Sweeney

         The Technology Entrepreneur Center, Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Research Park, and Social Innovation at Illinois recently held their 2nd Annual Illinideas pitching competition where students had the opportunity to pitch their startup idea in two minutes or less for a chance to win scholarship money. There were many great submissions, but five stood out to the judging committee. These five startups were Creative Soles, DIBBS, PALAM Solutions, PhantomCor, and Skydro.

            John Quarton, Director of the Hoeft Technology & Management Program and Senior Director of the Innovation Entrepreneurial Program, was highly impressed with the level of innovation seen from the competition.

“Every student on this campus deserves the opportunity to be an innovator or entrepreneur. Illinideas provides an opportunity for students to share their ideas with many of us responsible for the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Illinois. We are here to help students get the education, resources, advice, and funding to help make their dreams a reality,” said Quarton.

Meet the Startups!

Creative Soles

Creative Soles is a program that provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to make money by creating art on canvas shoes.

“Pitching Creative Soles into a camera was a different experience for me, but it turned out great. Being one of the winners for Illiniideas only makes me want to work harder to make Creative Soles successful,” said Drew McNamara, Founder.


DIBBS is a marketplace that connects excess food with those that need it, helping to minimize food waste as well as hunger.

“We're excited to be an Illinideas winner. DIBBS is grateful to be supported by the University of Illinois' innovation ecosystem,” said Kathleen Hu, Founder.

PALAM Solutions

PALAM Solutions is a combined grain dryer and storage solution for the small-scale Indian farmer.

“Other than the funding, winning the Illinideas pitch competition provided the encouragement that this dream of mine is worth pursuing, and that people are interested in the positive impact I am trying to create on subsistence farming,” said Scheile Preston, Founder.


PhantomCor is a startup dedicated to creating “the most cost-effective, dynamic, multimodal heart phantom for accurate machine calibration and testing of novel imaging strategies.”

"We're a pretty young startup and need some help off the ground, and Illinideas is helping us with just that. We're really excited about being one of the winners! I'm really glad that the university offers opportunities like this. It lets even the more difficult ideas by undergraduate students get their projects off the ground,” said Hiba Shahid, Team Leader.


Skydro focuses on improving the efficiency of water usage for irrigation, utilizing drones with radar sensors that can map out water distribution in the soil.

“I applied to Illinideas last-minute and on a whim, and I didn't really expect to really win anything, but now I'm really glad that I took the time to try anyways! I'm also really thankful and appreciative for all the help and support that Illinideas has provided to me and the rest of us for our ideas and startups,” said Kevin Guo, Founder.

Scheile Preston, Founder of PALAM Solutions, pitching at SocialFuse
Scheile Preston, Founder of PALAM Solutions, pitching at SocialFuse